Thursday, May 31, 2018

Italy Update

CNN reports the IMF bureaucrat Italy's President had asked to form a government turned it down. He has said the job should go to the candidate (Giuseppe Conti) named by the coalition of the League and the 5Star parties and formerly turned down by the President.

This means the odd situation we noted on Tuesday is "old news" and the popular will has finally prevailed. Italy, which is the first stop for most illegal immigrants from Africa, will be a much less welcoming place under this new government.
(Matteo) Salvini, who promised during the election campaign to expel half a million illegal immigrants from Italy, is Italy's new interior minister.

(Eurosceptic Paolo)Savona will enter the government as minister for European affairs.
N.B., "interior minister" means top cop, "minister for European affairs" handles relations with the EU. Italy will be fun to watch during the next year, it would seem. Perhaps their policies will resemble those of Hungary; Italians too are fed up with being overrun by transients and illegal immigrants.

Solo, A Star Wars Story -- a Review

I wrote a couple of days ago I'd wait to see Solo, A Star Wars Story. I changed my mind and the DrsC saw it this afternoon. Not bad, it's decent entertainment, with plenty of fan service in the form of references to happenings in other SW films. Warning: spoilers ahead.

My strongest impression was that Alden Ehrenreich looks so much like a young Robert Wagner he could easily pass for his son, or even clone. He has the identical amused, knowing smirk for which Wagner is well-known.

I found this resemblance distracting. I cannot imagine Ehrenreich could morph into the young Harrison Ford who meets Luke Skywalker in the Mos Eisley cantina on Tatooine.

I enjoy Ford's acting but see him as rugged rather than cute, which both Wagner and Ehrenreich are. This disjuncture aside, Ehrenreich's acting was definitely okay.

My second impression, one I don't see echoed in other reviews, is that much of the film is derivative. Four examples will make the point. The Solo train heist looks like a more elaborate version of one in a Firefly TV episode.

Near the end it becomes crucial that the "coaxium" Solo's been chasing gets into the fuel tank of his Millennium Falcon. This very scene was burlesqued 30 years ago in 1987's Space Balls, with John Candy pouring a bottle of "schwartz" into the Winnebago spaceship's emergency fuel supply. Homage to a parody? Give me a break.

Lady Proxima, a pool-living snake-like monster runs a group of kid thieves on Corellia. The monster resembles one or more baddies in 20 year old Buffy, the Vampire Slayer episodes.

And the desert nomads living on the planet with an abandoned coaxium refinery look like refugees from the first Stargate film. It's hard to think of a SF or fantasy film from which nothing was "borrowed."

My third complaint is that the film was too long, after 100 minutes I began to wish the film would wrap it up. It runs long at 135 minutes, according to Wikipedia.

Enough complaints, what did I like? Emilia Clarke who plays Han's love interest looks more attractive here as a brunette, than she did as a blond on Game of Thrones. Woody Harrelson plays a semi-lovable rogue here, similar to the one he played in Hunger Games, it's a character he does well. And Lando's robot girlfriend is fun, if confusing. Finally, unlike Rogue 1, the plot of this film held together and made sense in terms of the overall SW story arc.

Feeling the Need

Variety reports Tom Cruise is working a sequel to his 1986 Top Gun. For everybody who loved its overwhelming carrier deck intro with afterburners roaring, Kenny Loggins' Danger Zone blaring, and steam catapults firing, this is good news.

The film's working title is Top Gun: Maverick. It's scheduled to be in theaters in just over 13 months -- mid-July, 2019. Do you still feel "the need for speed" or think it's time "to kick the tires and light the fires"?

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Fun Factoid

Forbes reports cable news ratings. The bottom line:
In May, prime-time viewership for the cable news networks was down overall except for Fox News, which grew 6% from the same period last year. CNN had the biggest declines, down a full 25%. Among viewers 25-54, Fox News was up slightly (+2%) while MSNBC fell significantly (-21%) and CNN dropped by more than a third (-34%).
Anytime the good guys win and the bad guys lose is worth celebrating.

Automotive News

MSN reports the CEO of Fiat Chrysler is rumored to be considering killing the Chrysler brand, which consists of only two vehicles at present. He also is rumored to be planning to pull the Fiat brand back out of the U.S. and China. Fiat would continue in Europe, South America and perhaps Africa.

The company would apparently continue to sell Jeep vehicles, Ram trucks, and perhaps Dodge muscle cars here in the U.S. Americans who have recently bought a tiny Fiat 500 would own an orphaned vehicle. The attrition of automotive brands continues unabated.

It's Weird ... It's British

We've known of the so-called "grooming" gangs of Muslim men who lure young white Brit girls into prostitution and worse since the news of Rotherham came out first in the late 1990s, with the first convictions happening in 2010. It turned out that the police and child protective services knew it was going on but, supposedly, said nothing for fear of being called "racists" or "Islamophobes."

I've wondered how the Brit establishment could take this affront so calmly, and the explanation comes from that always-interesting British-educated import from Canada, Mark Steyn. See his May 28, 2018, column at the Steyn Online website, and scroll down:
To Mad Ash and his fellow 'Asians', the likes of Jessica and Katie are 'white slags'. To Her Majesty's Constabulary, they're mere 'Paki-shaggers', and thus unworthy of valuable police resources.
Translation, for non-Anglophiles: The Pakistanis who do the grooming view the minor girls as whores whose parents, if any, don't care (or can't control) what they do, something Muslim parents don't allow.

The British police view the involved minor girls as so debased they would sleep with non-white men and, as such, are beneath contempt and deserving of their fate, however poor, nasty, brutish and short. This contempt is part of that amazing rigid class thing the Brits are famous for.

The "lower orders" in Britain are thought (expected?) to do all manner of lewd things. The attitude isn't new, George MacDonald Fraser wrote about it in the Flashman novels set in the mid-1800s.

Flashman and his posh cronies romp with saucy lower class young women they call "dollymops," meaning amateur or part-time prostitutes. Basically, bored shop girls looking for someone to spend money on them, trading their youth and sex for "upstairs" food, drink and excitement. Cinderella anyone?

Double Standards, Revisited links to a USA Today story reproducing a Tweet by President Trump apropos of the Roseanne Barr firing by ABC. The @realDonaldTrump tweets:
Bob Iger of ABC called Valerie Jarrett to let her know that "ABC
does not tolerate comments like those" made by Roseanne Barr.
Gee, he never called President Donald J. Trump to apologize for
the HORRIBLE statements made and said about me on ABC.
Maybe I just didn't get the call?
I'm happy to see our President has the same concerns about the media's double standards I expressed here yesterday. Apparently the bean counters at ABC and parent Disney haven't learned the NFL's "kneeling" lesson.

The lesson is obvious: overt political bias influences viewership negatively. The stock market understands this. Disney share prices are near their 52 week low.

Reading the Tea Leaves

Are you old enough to remember when Kremlin watchers would try to infer the inner workings of the Soviet hierarchy by the order in which those old men stood bundled in their overcoats watching a showy parade in Moscow? No lie, they did it.

Now The Daily Caller runs a column in which someone applies the same sort of bankshot reasoning to the U.S. Supreme Court. Considering a recent decision not to accept an abortion case from Arkansas, the author tries to infer the court’s liberal minority believe Justice Anthony Kennedy is planning to retire before the case could be decided.

Kennedy, the Court’s long-time “swing” jurist, often votes with the liberals on abortion. If he should retire, and be replaced by President Trump with a fifth conservative, the restrictive abortion law would likely be upheld. The liberals would rather kick that can down the road, and agreed not to hear the appeal at this time.

If you scroll down, you see the author admits there are other possible interpretations of the decision not to review. Inferential reasoning has its limits.

2018‘s Most Competitive Nation: the U.S.

The Investor’s Business Daily tends to be pro-Trump. With that caveat, see how IBD describes a report of annual competitiveness rankings.
The report comes from the IMD Competitiveness Center in Switzerland. Each year it ranks countries by 256 different variables to come up with its global competitiveness rankings.

For 2018, there was a surprise: The U.S. leapt three places to take over the top spot in global competitiveness — just ahead of Hong Kong, Singapore, the Netherlands and Switzerland. That jump was based on its "strength in economic performance and infrastructure," ranking first in both areas.
IBD concludes the naysayers were wrong and the President was right about what is good for the economy. Even Democrats have to admit the economy is booming, although they assign the credit elsewhere.

COTTonLINE concludes if the 2018 midterm election is a referendum on pocketbook issues, the GOP will do well.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Double Standards

Roseanne Barr tweeted some ugly stuff and got fired by ABC. Whether or not she understood the consequences of her act, she did something too gross to tolerate and in so doing asked to be fired and was. I do not write to defend Barr or her tweet.

Rather, I write to ask whether if the person cruelly caricatured had been a Republican, a Trump ally, would the malefactor's top-rated TV show be cancelled, would they be fired? Or would their apology be accepted with a stern warning to shape up?

I suspect the outcome would have been different. I think people have said equally ugly things about the president on air and continue to report to the studio five nights a week to host their talk shows.

My complaint is not that Barr was fired, she deserved it. My complaint is that others who have said equally repulsive things about Republican men and women skate ... they deserve to be fired and are not.

As the folks who blog at Instapundit write: "If progressives didn't have double standards, they'd have no standards at all." Unfair treatment is a conservative's lot, bitterness the frequent result.

Dysfunctional Italy

There is weird political stuff happening in Italy. Two populist parties - one left, one right - recently won the two largest blocs of votes. Together they have a majority and they've agreed to form a coalition government (most Italian governments are coalitions).

The two parties haggled and put together a proposed cabinet, including a finance minister who is eurosceptic. Italy's figurehead President refused to approve the cabinet - very nearly his only important constitutional function - as he found the eurosceptic unacceptable.

Instead he asked a former IMF official to form a government, ignoring the vote of the people. Many media outlets have run with this story, see the electoral map at this one.

Whatever that IMF boffin comes up with will likely be turned down by the parliament, after which another election will be held. The two snubbed parties likely will gain an even larger share of the vote a second time.

Europe's elites, much like our own, disdain public opinion. Theirs, however, get away with ignoring the popular will more often. Bureaucrats of the continent-wide European Union are often openly contemptuous of voting and plebiscites, preferring rule by technocrat.

Quote of the Day

Pseudonymous Tweeter Wretchardthecat, apparently likes his irony straight-up:
A media that taught us to mock authority and
culture was unprepared for the day when the
audience would mock their authority and
their culture.
Hear the minions of the left howl when we treat them as they've treated us. Now the worm turns, hat tip to Shakespeare for the metaphor. Hat tip to Instapundit for the Tweet link.

Foreign Policy Wisdom

Historian Victor Davis Hanson, writing at National Review that the post-war order is over. He says much that is spot-on, but I particularly like this succinct judgment:
Just because Turkey says it is a NATO ally does not mean that it is, much less that it will be one in the future. Turkey is analogous to Pakistan, a country whose occasional usefulness to the U.S. does not suggest that it is either an ally or even usually friendly.
This disavowal has needed saying for ever so long.

For Star Wars Fans

There's a new Star Wars film out, Solo, a Star Wars Story. I'm a semi-fan, I like SW better than Star Trek. As noted a month or two ago, Blade Runner 1 & 2 and Dune (film and miniseries) are my true cup of SF intoxicant.

If you'd like to read a decent review of Solo with very few spoilers, I recommend this one from Stephen Green's Lifestyle blog at PJ Media. Green doesn't pan the film as much as some, he says it's okay but could have been sooo much better.

I'm waiting for fellow SF enthusiast Ed to arrive before seeing Solo, I'll have a review when we do. Meanwhile, summer is only 3 weeks away and the Rockies are beautiful - clean, green, and serene.

More on Krugman

I had an additional thought about the Krugman Tweets reproduced below. If Krugman trusts the populist electoral process in Italy, why can’t he trust the U.S. populists who elected Trump? Just asking....

Attempted Destruction

Seeking to understand why the Obama administration would spy on a Trump campaign nearly everyone believed would lose, Instapundit Glenn Reynolds reprints a 13 June 2016 Tweet by Obama Senior Advisor David Plouffe:
It is not enough to simply beat Trump. He
must be destroyed thoroughly. His kind must
not rise again.
Followed by Reynolds’ editorial reaction:
So I think it wasn’t so much about winning an election through dirty tricks, but about something even dirtier, looking for a way to prosecute and bankrupt Trump after he lost, as a warning to others. An awful lot of people involved in this should wind up in jail, disbarred, and unemployed.
To date we’ve only achieved a part of the “unemployed,” several more need to leave government under a cloud. Future work must produce results on the “jail” and “disbarred” parts of that indictment. Echoing Plouffe, one is tempted to write of the Obamacrats, “Their kind must not rise again.”

Monday, May 28, 2018

Krugman Right ... Pigs Aloft

My general opinion: whatever Paul Krugman of the NY Times writes is wrong a priori. However, Steven Hayward at Power Line posts two Krugman Tweets about the political turmoil in Italy I actually agree with. The first says:
This is really awful: you don't have to
like the populist parties who won a clear
electoral mandate to be appalled at the
attempt to exclude them from power
because they want a eurosceptic
finance minister 1/
The second says:
Faith in the single currency trumps
democracy? Really? European
institutions already suffering lack of
legitimacy due to democratic deficit.
This will make things much worse 2/
Honestly, I couldn't say it better than that. Has Krugman experienced an epiphany? Naah.

Holiday Snark

A sarcastic Tweet by the pseudonymous Neontaster.
Are white women the target de jour of
the social justice mob because white
men stopped giving a f***? Because it
kinda feels like that to me.
Hat tip to Ed Driscoll, guest blogging at Instapundit, for the link.

And More Yet

John Hinderaker of Power Line adds additional refinements to the Tommy Robinson story detailed in the two posts below.
Robinson was hauled before a judge and, apparently, was immediately sentenced. I think what happened is that the judge imposed a 13-month prison term that had been suspended, arising out of a similar incident.

According to The Independent, Robinson was already on a suspended sentence for contempt of court over a gang rape case in 2017. In that case, Robinson wasn’t one of the rapists, he was trying to film or photograph the rapists, in violation of notices posted around the courthouse.
My parole/probation scenario below wasn't far off the mark, a suspended sentence is essentially the same animal. The Brit government is doing its level worst to prevent their citizens from learning just how much gruesome crime can be fairly attributed to the Islamic immigrant population.

Gag orders never work. Not getting the real story, people will imagine the situation to be even worse than it actually is. I begin to think the Theresa May government is in trouble; Boris Johnson for PM?

More on the Robinson Affair

Actually the British press is pretty sneaky at avoiding the gag order detailed in the post immediately below. The Daily News reports a demonstration in support of Tommy Robinson, legitimate news since it tied up traffic and had hundreds chanting around the PM's residence and Parliament.

Notice how the Mail discreetly covers its backside by calling him "far-right," as in "Of course we don't approve of his actions, your honor." They nevertheless got the news in front of the British public.

Don't you suppose nearly everyone who voted in favor of Brexit thinks Robinson is correct in opposing Islam? They constituted, in case you forgot, a slim majority of U.K. citizens who cared enough to vote. The U.K. government has ignored entirely too much misbehavior by their substantial Muslim minority.

Hat tip to for the link. Apologies to Simon and Garfunkel for the classical reference in the title; smart aleck comments about gag orders and "keeping it from the kids" should be resisted.

Gestapo Tactics in the U.K.

I'm an Anglophile. We think of the United Kingdom as a country honoring free speech and political liberty. The peculiar case of free-speech advocate and Islam opponent Tommy Robinson makes it appear we are wrong in thinking so.

Author and poet Bruce Bawer writes about the case at the Gatestone Institute website, some excerpts:
On Friday, British free-speech activist and Islam critic Tommy Robinson was acting as a responsible citizen journalist -- reporting live on camera from outside a Leeds courtroom where several Muslims were being tried for child rape -- when he was set upon by several police officers. In the space of the next few hours, a judge tried, convicted, and sentenced him to 13 months in jail -- and also issued a gag order, demanding a total news blackout on the case in the British news media. Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was immediately taken to Hull Prison.

The irony of this case is that the gag order, while silencing the British news media, has caused people around the world to take notice.
Other sources report Robinson was quiet and orderly prior to his arrest, and was overtly obeying the law. Assuming what has been reported is correct, if Robinson's conviction and the media gag order are allowed to stand, the May government will have much to answer for.

However, if Robinson was already on probation/parole for earlier unlawful acts, and violated those constraints by his actions in filming outside the courtroom, his swift imprisonment would make sense.

The gag order, preventing Brits from learning what happened, would then be the real outrage. It would behoove the British government to make public the grounds for his imprisonment, unless they don't dare.

Memberships Declining, Reason Unknown

COTTonLINE takes a backseat to nobody in honoring our veterans. Freedom isn't free now, and wasn't in our past.

Today is Memorial Day, honoring America's war dead. Drudge Report links to a CBS Dallas story reporting a decline in memberships of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion.

The VFW and Legion are largely fraternal organizations for service members who mustered out in good standing. While they also advocate for veterans benefits, mostly they fill the same social niche as the Lions, Elks, Masons, or Rotary.

What makes the CBS piece a non-story is all such organizations have suffered membership declines in the past couple of decades, not just those for veterans. Fewer people go to church, too.

Social scientists have offered various theories for this decline: two-earner couples' time constraints, online entertainment, a change in the zeitgeist. My understanding is we don't know a precise explanation. For whatever reason, we aren't the "joiners" our parents and grandparents were.

Why Junkyards Have Mean Dogs

If you have a rude neighbor who sometimes wanders into your property and misuses it, you very well might consider getting a Rottweiler or pit bull to chase him off. It deters by turning a minor incursion into a major battle your neighbor would prefer to avoid.

The Daily Caller reports Poland has offered (or considers offering) up to $2 billion for the U.S. to establish a permanent military base in Poland housing an armored division. It’s an intriguing offer.

Like South Korea, Poland lives next door to a troublesome neighbor. One which has demonstrated in the past a willingness to invade and occupy their territory and dominate or murder their citizenry.

If Poland can get the U.S. to station U.S. troops there semi-permanently, as we have in South Korea, they would acquire what strategists call a “tripwire.” If the troublesome neighbor invades, “tripwire” U.S. troops will almost certainly come under fire immediately.

In defending themselves, those troops will pull the U.S. inevitably into war against that troublesome neighbor, as an ally of the host nation. You can understand the idea’s appeal to the Poles, who live trapped between the ‘grindstones’ of Russia and Germany.

Given Germany’s current grumpy attitude toward the U.S., why not move a large part of our semi-permanent military establishment from Germany to Poland? Perhaps both Germany and Poland would find this a positive development.

After 70+ years of U.S. occupation evolving into anti-Russian “tripwire,” the Germans might like us to leave. And as noted a couple of days ago, the current German military isn’t much of a threat to anybody except Germany. The regional threat is Russia.

Barone Compares Spygate to Watergate

Michael Barone knows more about American politics of the last 50 years than just about anybody alive and writing. Today he has an excellent column in the New York Post which compares Spygate to Watergate. Presuming you find this idea interesting, I highly recommend his essay.
The crime at the root of Watergate was an attempt at surveillance of the DNC after George McGovern seemed about to win the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, just as the government misconduct in Russiagate was an attempt at surveillance of the Republican Party’s national campaign after Trump clinched its nomination.

In both cases, the incumbent administration regarded the opposition’s unorthodox nominee as undermining the nation’s long-standing foreign policy and therefore dangerous to the country.

There are two obvious differences between Watergate and the Obama administration’s infiltration. The Watergate burglars were arrested in flagrante delicto, and their wiretaps never functioned. And neither the FBI nor the CIA fully cooperated with the post-election cover-up.

That’s quite a contrast with the Obama law enforcement and intelligence appointees’ promotion of Christopher Steele’s Clinton campaign-financed dodgy dossier and feeding the mainstream media’s insatiable hunger for Russia collusion stories.
I’ve given you a “sampler” of Barone’s column, you should really read the whole thing.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Sainted Victimhood

We wrote below about calling a bluff, and the reasons the deep state is stalling on producing Spygate documents and reports. Here's an afterthought.

Perhaps another motive for stalling is the hope of making Trump mad enough to fire them for foot dragging. Being fired would win them victim status - the left's version of sainthood. Victimhood would go a long way toward inoculating DOJ/FBI bureaucrats against charges of official misbehavior.


Long-time Power Line contributor Steven Hayward notes a conflict that is just plain fun to watch. It concerns Planned Parenthood, an icon of the left, trying to overturn a union representation vote of their workers in Colorado, won by SIEU, another left icon.

The NLRB decided in favor of PP's contention that SIEU would have to win a majority of all PP workers in the 3-state region, not just in CO. Seemingly it did not, CO being more liberal than the surrounding states. That decision is being appealed by the SIEU.

Watching two stalwarts of the left fight is wonderful fun, you hope each bloodies the other badly. Imagine leftist paragon Planned Parenthood engaging in union-busting, a near-ultimate capitalist sin. Although I seem to remember the 2016 Clinton campaign resisted unionization of their staff.

In each case you can imagine the leadership whining "But we're the good folks. That union crap is aimed at evil, greedy worker-exploiting capitalists; we're non-profit and can't afford it."

A Fun Factoid

I'll bet you didn't know the young Donald Trump was recruited by major league baseball teams as a first-baseman at New York Military Academy. The Washington Examiner has the story, part of a review of a book which includes that vignette.
In the new “The Presidents and the Pastime,” noted sports author Curt Smith writes that both the Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox tried to grab Trump before going to college. Each time he said no, or as Smith wrote, “He chose ‘real money’ over baseball money.”
First base is a tough position. It doesn't sound like the young Joe Biden could have taken him.

Calling a Bluff

National Review’s Andrew McCarthy has been one of the two indispensible observers of Spygate, the other being WSJ’s Kim Strassel. Today McCarthy discourses on the ambiguous nature of law enforcement’s confidential informants. See his conclusion:
The Obama administration blatantly politicized the government’s intelligence and law-enforcement apparatus. Their Chicken Little shrieks that public disclosure of FISA warrants and texts between FBI agents would imperil security have proven overblown at best (and, in some instances, to be cynical attempts to hide embarrassing facts). “Trust us” is not cutting it anymore.

In the end, it is not about who the spies are. It is about why they were spying. In our democratic republic, there is an important norm against an incumbent administration’s use of government’s enormous intelligence-gathering capabilities to — if we may borrow a phrase — interfere in an election. To justify disregarding that norm would require strong evidence of egregious wrongdoing. Enough bobbing and weaving, and enough dueling tweets. Let’s see the evidence.
In poker terms, we’re “calling” the DOJ and FBI. If any Trump people were in cahoots with Russians, or if there was even credible reason to believe they might be, it’s time to turn over the cards and show us a winning hand.

The DOJ/FBI stalling tactics strongly imply they hold a busted flush, in other words, nothing. It appears they bluffed and lost. Note to non-poker players: Your bluff only works if nobody makes you show your cards. If you bet like you have a strong hand when you don’t - and another player matches your bet, forcing you to show your weak cards, you lose.

To continue with the poker analogy, it appears the Obamacrats had little but suspected much, and drew to an inside straight. Since they expected a Clinton win, they took what looked like a small risk and hoped to find enough dirt to to make their spying plausible. But Clinton lost and they came up with nothing. Bluff called, they lose.

The deep state’s strategy at this point seems to be to keep stalling until the 2018 elections and hope their illegal spying becomes “lost” in the “fog” of impeachment by a Democrat-dominated House. If that seems risky, it nevertheless may be their only path which avoids prison so they take it with fingers crossed and breath held.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Saturday Snickers

It’s Saturday so Steve Hayward has once again posted at Power Line his compilation of cartoons, captioned photos, posters and snark. Herewith some favorites described.

If you missed the Hillary at Yale cartoon at, it shows up again here, and is a hoot.

Photo of a flushing toilet, with blue-tinted water swirling down, captioned:
I found the blue wave
that Democrats keep 
talking about
Photo of James Comey, James Clapper, and John Brennan, sitting at a table, labeled respectively:
Leaky     Sneaky     Freaky
A poster with the following text:
Democrat Dictionary:
1. Illegal Immigrants  -  Dreamers
2. Trump Supporters. -  Deplorables
3. MS-13 killers  -  Human Beings
4. Human Beings in the Womb. -  Not Human Beings
5. Hamas Terrorists  -  Protestors
6. Law Abiding NRA Members  -  Terrorists
Two great put-downs of the hat worn to the royal wedding by Prince Charles’ wife Camilla. The first photoshopped to be a tray of antipasto, the second captioned:
Somewhere ...
A ceiling is missing
its insulation
A photo of the Queen looking grumpily at bride Meghan Markle, captioned:
When you’re plotting a car crash, but
remember you’ve already used that idea once
Two photos, the top one of five smiling, cheerful women, labeled as the Defense Ministers of Albania, Netherlands, Germany, Norway, and Italy. The second a photo of unsmiling Marine Gen. Mattis, the U.S. SecDef, in camo, captioned:
“Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”
Photo of an actual Arizona welcome sign, which says  “Arizona, the Grand Canyon State Welcomes You.” It has been photoshopped to add the following: “We truly apologize for John McCain & Jeff Flake.”

The 🔑 #Inside Man

Power Line’s Scott Johnson links to Spygate stuff deemed important by National Review’s Andrew McCarthy, who along with WSJ’s Kimberley Strassel, has been all over this story. McCarthy echoes Tweets by a pseudonymous “Undercover Huber” who writes:
So, it turns out that PETER STRZOK (who is probably flipped and cooperating with @justice OIG Horowitz), was running the “Crossfire Hurricane” counterintel investigation across “divisions”, “multiple agencies” and with “foreign governments” in Dec 2016
He’s the 🔑 #Inside Man
Johnson concludes:
What we have here for anyone with eyes to see is the slow uncovering of the biggest scandal in American political history.
Personally, I’ll leave drawing those sweeping generalization for historians with 20-20 hindsight. We’ve had some doozies in our “political history” so is it “biggest?” Hard to say. I’m comfortable with saying it is definitely big, and ugly.

Overdue, But Welcome

The New York Times reports President Trump has used a series of executive orders to ease the firing of federal workers. This action is, to my personal knowledge, some 40 years overdue.

In the mid-1970s my university loaned me to the Feds for two years, the civil service was then littered with what the wags of the day called “dud fireworks.” That is, they don’t work and you can’t fire them.

The cynical CW at the time was every federal supervisor attempts to fire one loser, no federal supervisor ever tries to fire a second loser. What supervisors learned in the first attempt was the effort took most of their time for nearly 3 years while their other work was neglected.

Thus the supervisors’ own performance appraisals suffered as their managers “knew better” than to waste time trying to fire someone with civil service protections. While theoretically possible, it was purpose-designed to be impractical and onerous.

In my small federal office of five professionals, including the boss, one was a total loser, another had both OCD and a savant’s knowledge of the multi-volume, constantly evolving Federal Personnel Manual. It was an odd group that included two ex-Roman Catholic priests.

In nearby units I saw losers who spent their days reading novels or newspapers, doing no federal work, required only to be present to be paid. I shared an office with a guy who treated us as his “day job” while his heart was in his real gig which occupied much of his at-work time and attention. Our boss knew and ignored his non-performance - shrugged it off with “the system is screwed-up.”

This is the FUBAR culture the President is trying to change, the swamp he’s attempting to drain. It needs doing.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Epiphany at Harvard

John Hinderaker, senior contributor at Power Line, quotes an editorial from the Harvard Crimson that is very encouraging, as well as unexpected. They write:
Much more work is needed in expanding the conversation and prioritizing ideological diversity on campus. Startlingly, just around 1.5 percent of respondents to The Crimson news staff’s survey of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences identify as conservative or very conservative, compared to 83.2 percent who identify as liberal or very liberal.

These statistics do not reflect America: 35 percent of Americans identify as conservative, 23 times the fraction of the faculty survey’s respondents, and 26 percent identify as liberal. This stark divide has harmful effects on the University’s ability to train our nation’s leaders, and it risks alienating current and potential conservative students. It has also likely contributed to the declining trust of Americans in higher education, which has deleterious effects. 
I'm impressed at this degree of realism. Maybe Harvard University's lofty reputation is, to some degree, merited after all.

Political Humor

There is a great Branco cartoon leading off the compendium today. It's based on what should have been said at a real event. Always cautious about copyright issues, I'll describe it for you and quote the voice balloon.

Picture a grumpy Hillary giving the commencement address at Yale, holding aloft a Russian ushanka hat - this much actually happened. The voice balloon is where the cartoon diverges from her text, it has her saying:
I tried to rig an election,
I spied on my opponent,
I gave Russia U.S. uranium,
I bought fake intel from them,
And all I got was
This lousy hat.
Only a slight exaggeration. Russians paid the Clinton Foundation big bucks to facilitate the uranium sale, she "gave" them nothing.

Sitting and Standing

During 2 years as a young academic on loan to the Feds in DC, I learned an adage that has explained many things since: Where you sit determines where you stand. Unpacking this, where you are on the organization chart (or in society) determines your views on many issues. That is, your views are related to your self-interest.

For example, links to two related stories, the first from The Hill quotes the president of the Border Patrol's union calling the deployment of the National Guard to the border a "colossal waste of resources." The second from the Washington Examiner reports:
As of Friday, National Guard troops assisted U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and Border Patrol agents in apprehending 4,116 illegal immigrants, turning back 1,182 people, and seizing 3,486 pounds of marijuana since April 15, according to new DHS data first obtained by the Washington Examiner.
Who is lying? Probably both sides are exaggerating, if not lying. They obviously "sit" in different places.

The union president wants to protect jobs for his members; he would rather the Feds hired more border agents. He doesn't want to see the military get a semi-permanent role on the border as he can't enroll troops as members.

The Department of Homeland Security reports to the President and is duty-bound to support his policies, one of which is sending the Guard to the border. So they need to say it's working.

As usual, the truth is somewhere in the middle. I believe the Guard have helped, sometimes quite a lot. Border Patrol agents are, however, more useful as they have arrest and detainment powers while troopers don't.

The main advantage of the National Guard is the President can call them up w/o going to Congress. Hiring new BP agents - beyond those already authorized and funded - requires legislation which in the current environment is quite hard to get.

VDH Considers Germany

Writing for the Hoover Institution’s Defining Ideas publication, historian Victor Davis Hanson looks at today’s Germany and sees uncomfortable parallels with 1870, 1914, and 1939. I’ll grant that the parallels he identifies are real.

What makes the parallels less meaningful is the total unpreparedness of the German military this time around. In those other eras, German arms responded by gobbling up surrounding countries.

Perhaps today’s notoriously underfunded, undermanned and unserious Bundeswehr could defeat tiny Luxembourg. No larger neighbor need feel especially threatened.

Which is not to say Germany can’t make mischief in central Europe. Dropping the U.S. and choosing Russia as its territorial guarantor would certainly upend NATO and the EU.

As VDH notes, when Germans “feel aggrieved,” many ugly and unfortunate things become possible, (e.g., the Holocaust). One troubling thing they’ve done this time around is mass Islamic immigration, which in Germany and France begins to resemble a twenty-first century Holocaust outsourced to Islam.

Actors Formerly More Enjoyable

Stephen Green who guest-blogs at Instapundit, posts a Tweet by one Stephen Kruiser which just may be the smartest thing anyone has written in the past week. Kruiser writes:
Actors were more enjoyable when they had publicists who didn’t let them speak to the public & reveal how stupid they were.
Being someone the camera “likes” and having the ability to produce on demand the believable appearance of a particular emotional state are quite specific traits. These traits are not necessarily highly related to intelligence, common sense or sanity.

Are they valuable and scarce characteristics? Certainly. Are they markers of great wisdom and insight? Not even close, as evidenced by the generally chaotic and often self-destructive lives actors lead off-screen/stage.

Many were politically naive libertines when my father encountered them in the Hollywood of the 20s and 30s, most are no better today. “Grown-up pretty children” playing at make-believe while the cameras roll.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Perhaps Dramatically So

Sean Trende (love the name) writes political analysis for RealClearPolitics and is based outside the Beltway in Trump-loving "flyover" country. He has posted his overview of the 2018 House election from that vantage point < 6 months before the polls close. He considers 3 factors important:
1. Trump’s job approval has increased.
2. The generic ballot has moved.
3. Special elections are an unproven metric.
After considering each factor, Trende concludes:
Can we say with certainty how the Battle for the House will play out? Absolutely not. Six months is several lifetimes in politics. But there is little doubt that the Republicans’ chances have improved over the past five months, perhaps dramatically so. That is noteworthy, and the CW should adjust accordingly.
Reluctantly, the reported CW is changing; no doubt generating massive heartburn among the chattering classes.

Being Too Picky links to a report in The Washington Times which quotes SecDef and former general Mattis as follows:
We are no longer receiving people from the society who are as much in step with the qualities that our institution must have for success on the battlefield.

More than 70 percent of 18- to 24-year-old males and females cannot qualify to be a private in the Army. … I’m told it’s 72 percent, it’s unfortunately going up.

This is combination of illicit drug abuse, illicit drug use, obesity is probably the biggest one, morals, you know, just arrests, that sort of thing and there are other reasons.
I don't write to dispute what Gen. Mattis says, I'm sure he is essentially correct. Rather I write to make a friendly suggestion.

Former arrests and illicit drug use never kept the French Foreign Legion from enrolling low-life rascals and turning them into acceptable infantry. And obesity is nothing that a lean diet and hard exercise can't reverse in young people.

True, for most of their history the Legion was garrisoned abroad, kept away from the good folk of Metropolitan France. No reason we couldn't do the same with units of our forces, Puerto Rico or the Northern Marianas come to mind as base locations.

Our military has been spoiled by its volunteer-only status. They want to enlist sterling citizens when traditionally standing armies were filled with losers and ne'er-do-wells. The only time the cream of American youth volunteered en masse was for truly patriotic wars, following Pearl Harbor or the sinking of the Lusitania.

Molotov-Ribbentrop Redux?

I’m reading a good RealClearWorld story about Europe’s negative reaction to the U.S. pulling out of the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran, when it turns “very interesting, but not funny.” See their conclusion:
For Germany it means putting some irons in the fire that have nothing to do with Europe whatsoever. That means economic and energy connections to Russia. That means at least giving Russian demands a hearing. That means taking Russian strategic interests into account as concerns the countries between Germany and Russia.

OK, maybe that does sound a bit like a Molotov-Ribbentrop redux.

Never forget that the founding concept of the EU and NATO were to keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down. All three of those pillars are gone.

History is moving on.
Germany hasn’t been “down” for some years, maybe the Americans are no longer perceived to be “in.” Don’t be surprised to see the Russian bear sniffing around Europe.

This will make the Visegrad countries very nervous indeed. They keep getting ground down between the Russian and German millstones (apologies for mixing metaphors).

Counterintel Against Trump

Investigative reporter Sheryl Attkisson writes at The Hill she’s identified eight signs there was skullduggery at the crossroads or, as she puts it less theatrically, “a counterintelligence operation deployed against Trump for political reasons.” The eight indicators are the following, see her column for details.
Code name
Wiretap fever
National security letters
Changing the rules
Media strategy
Friends, informants, and snoops
Attkisson’s column is worth your time to read the whole thing.

Russians Responsible for MH 17 Shoot-down

The Washington Post reports Dutch investigators have determined that the missile which shot down a Malaysian Airlines flight over Ukraine in 2014 came from a convoy of Russian military vehicles. Shared involvement of Ukrainian rebels is possible too.

The plane crash killed Dutch tourists headed for holiday fun in Malaysia. The Netherlands is not amused.

Expect lawsuits and possible prosecutions in the international criminal court based in The Hague. Also a further worsening of EU-Russian relations.

It’s Historic

The website DC Whispers has a summary of the current state-of-play in Washington, DC, that is definitely worth sharing with you.
The Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign, infiltrated the campaign, colluded with foreign powers to attack the campaign, then worked to damage a newly elected president and ultimately overthrow an entire administration. Those collective actions are now known as “Spygate” and the Establishment Media is desperate to insulate Mr. Obama from being directly implicated in what is quickly turning into the single greatest political scandal in U.S. history.
Wow! Perhaps President Obama will make history beyond being the first mixed-race president. It could put the Obama mug shot alongside those of Grant, Harding and Nixon.

Instigating “the single greatest political scandal in U.S. history”? That’s huge, or in the current parlance “yuuuuge.”

A Master Class in Bargaining

Drudge Report links to CNBC reporting President Trump has cancelled the Singapore summit with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un. The report includes the text of the letter Trump sent Kim explaining his belief that, given angry statements by the Norks, the meeting would not be useful at this time.

I guess we know who is the master negotiator, as Scott Adams described Trump. Sweet talk about a Nobel Peace Prize apparently hasn’t gone to Trump’s head, as some had feared.

This is classical Bargaining 101. The party which appears to want or need the agreement less, normally ends up with the better deal.

Trump just signalled he isn’t desperate for a deal with Kim, after waxing rhapsodic about the many benefits North Korea could achieve out of it. Notice how he has said little about what we hope to gain.

I expect the next thing we’ll hear is that trade sanctions on China just got tougher, signalling to China we don’t appreciate them telling the Norks to play hardball. This multi-partnered “dance” will be a master class in bargaining ... watch and learn.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018


Congress is trying to pass legislation (e.g., FIRST STEP) to reduce prison populations. One blog I read suggests the supporters are a malign coalition of Democrats and pro-drug libertarian Republicans. It is a bad idea.

A recent Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics report on prisoner recidivism summarizes what happens to released felons.
Five in 6 (83%) state prisoners released in 2005 across 30 states were arrested at least once during the 9 years following their release. The remaining 17% were not arrested after release during the 9-year follow-up period.

About 4 in 9 (44%) prisoners released in 2005 were arrested at least once during their first year after release (figure 1). About 1 in 3 (34%) were arrested during their third year after release, and nearly 1 in 4 (24%) were arrested during their ninth year.
The data suggests releasing felons from prison is a high-risk, low-reward proposition. Congress has better things to do with their time than deinstitutionalizing habitual criminals.

New NFL Pre-Game Rules

Full disclosure: if I watch the Super Bowl, it is the only NFL game I'll see that year. Most years in early February I'm where viewing isn't convenient so I view the ads later online.

That said, when players began disrespecting the national anthem, I figured the kneeling would hurt ratings as NFL fans of my acquaintance tend to be "small p" patriots, even if they aren't Boston fans. It had exactly that effect.

Now ESPN reports the owners association has promulgated new rules for the next season.
NFL owners have unanimously approved a new national anthem policy that requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if they prefer, it was announced Wednesday.
With the near universal presence of video cams, you can bet there will be those who pore over pre-game images to determine and publicize who remained behind in the locker room. Such negative publicity will, at minimum, hurt abstaining players' endorsement earnings. Maybe their free agent chances too.

If more than a few players choose the late-entry option, it's likely TV ratings and ticket sales will continue to sag. The owners face an ironic dilemma, one with no obvious solutions. Many of their players don't like the fans and that feeling is somewhat reciprocated.

Democrats’ White Problem

The Washington Post carries a discussion of the racial sorting in politics that has taken place in the last 40 years. Whites have become more Republican, except for college educated whites. The latter group doesn’t help Democrats much because they tend to live in states which were already voting Democratic.

The author notes that as a group, whites are more economically conservative and socially liberal than non-whites, who are somewhat the reverse. Although he doesn’t explore the issue, this creates a difficulty for Democrats as pursuing the socially liberal positions which attract educated whites can push away the socially conservative non-white voters who make up a majority of their coalition.

Another factor the author ignores is the tendency of people to become more conservative as they grow older. Ours is an aging society, whose birth rate is below replacement. As the electorate ages, expect increasing conservatism which creates a Republican bias.

The drift to tribal/racial politics in the U.S. has been gradual but relatively consistent since 1970. Will it continue? A number of factors suggest it could.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

What Are They Hiding?

Liz Sheld writes at her Hot Mic blog at PJ Media about the documents Congress wants, which the DOJ and FBI won't give them.
Trump meets with DOJ, FBI about slow-walked documents, Kelly will set up meeting to review documents.

You've got to wonder what is in these documents that the DOJ and FBI will not turn them over to Congress. For months, they have resisted turning over documents rightfully requested as part of the congressional oversight.
The biggest secret Rosenstein and company could be concealing is that President Obama knew exactly what they were doing. That he had directed them to spy on the opponent's political campaign.

We need to force the foot-draggers to decide between their own fate and that of the former President. Some, I think, will immolate to protect Saint Barry. If we're lucky, others will cop a plea.

Good Advice

Instapundit Reynolds posts a Tweet by Kanye West about smart phone use. This is the second really smart thing West has been quoted as advocating. I begin to think he may become a serious influence in this society. Here is what he wrote:
Look at your phone as a tool not an obligation.
Would you walk around with a hammer in
your pocket? You would pick up a hammer
when you needed it  you would never be
addicted or obligated to it. Use your phone
like a hammer only pick it up when you need
N.B., I'd include in the "need it" category your phone's use as entertainment, for example in a doctor's waiting room. It carries fewer germs than the People magazine someone sick with flu or strep put down just as you entered.

Good News

The Hill reports results of a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll on the generic ballot question: would you vote for a Democrat or Republican for Congress?
Republicans hold a slim lead over Democrats in a generic ballot among registered voters, a new Reuters poll found, marking the first time the survey showed the GOP ahead in this election cycle.

The poll showed 38.1 percent of registered voters said they would vote for a Republican candidate if midterm elections were held today, compared to just under 37 percent who said they’d vote for a Democrat.

Another 15.4 percent of registered voters said they didn’t know which party’s candidate they’d choose. The new poll was conducted on May 17 and surveyed 1,338 registered voters.

The Reuters poll reflects a larger trend of Republicans closing the gap in the generic ballot.
While the Reuters poll has a small sample, many recent polls have shown the gap between the parties narrowing. The trend favors Republicans, who've been behind. What's not to like?


You've never seen a live dinosaur, right? Or a saber toothed cat, or a giant sloth, or a mastodon, or an actual Neanderthal (some current individuals do come close) either. All of these creatures have gone extinct, most with no help from humans. Yet the earth, and life, persist and flourish.

What's my point? Only that critters going extinct is a natural part of the existence of life on this planet. The fossil record shows species rise, flourish, wane and die. Life goes on. Environmentalists bewail this very natural process.

Many species coexist with us easily, like the robin building her nest on the beam of my back porch or the mule deer chewing cud in the backyard. I agree we shouldn't go out of our way to eliminate most species. I'd make an exception for the mosquito which preys on us and worse, transmits serious disease, giving us the near-duty to eliminate it.

On the modest acreage of my winter place, rattlesnakes are somewhat common. My attitude is, if they stay away from the house and garage, they're welcome to all the gophers and mice they can eat. If they show up by the house, I kill them. Individual snakes are endangered, the species not so much. Over time those rattlers whose natural instinct is to avoid human habitation will thrive, those which lack this bias will thrive less.

Notice how nobody bewails the extinction of the smallpox virus or near-extinction of polio? Would anybody miss ebola if we could eliminate it? How about malaria, cholera, typhoid, dengue or plague? I, for one, could do without the lot plus influenza and not lose a minute's sleep.

There are things to worry about; the extinction of at-risk fringe species - large, small and microscopic - may not be one of them.

Thanking POTUS

Scott Johnson, a Power Line original, has enumerated a whole list of things for which he is grateful to President Trump and his administration, they are here and here.

I find myself pretty much in agreement with Johnson. You might take a look and decide what you’d add or delete from the list and its extension. Conservative judges, including Gorsuch, would have ranked higher in my list.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Argentina, Hope Fading

COTTonLINE keeps an eye on developments in Argentina. It is the Latin American country which has the best mix of climate and resources to underpin a developed nation.

What Argentina hasn't had for the past 70 years is a political culture which can sustain development. Its mostly Peronist governments, at the behest of its people, have shown a positive genius at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

It was hoped all that would change with the election of President Mauricio Macri less than 3 years ago. Macri was trained in American business schools, had a successful business career, and promised to reverse the spendthrift policies of Cristina Fernández, his predecessor.

Foreign Policy reports the Macri administration is today in familiar economic trouble, and has turned to the IMF for assistance. It should be noted that, among Argentinians, the IMF is roughly as popular as ebola.

Interestingly, recent announcements that China will purchase more from the U.S. to reduce its trade surplus probably mean it will buy more U.S. soy beans. That translates into buying correspondingly less from Argentina, whose soy bean sales are already lagging. Poor Argentina can't seem to catch a break.

A Tectonic Shift

Pope Francis is reported to have said to a gay Chilean man abused as a child by priests:
God made you like this and loves you like this and I don’t care. The pope loves you like this. You have to be happy with who you are.
Needless to say, this has caused a certain stir in conservative Catholic circles. I’m not clear why anyone should be surprised, though. It is completely in character with Francis’ entire pastorate.

When Francis says something similar to a child-abusing priest, it will solve the “priests molesting children under their pastoral care” problem. Why didn’t his predecessors think of this ‘brilliant’ solution?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Good Data, Bad Interpretation

Power Line links to a National Bureau of Economic Research paper with an interesting finding, one which I believe the authors have misinterpreted. They conclude:
Our main contribution is to separate the effect of high-skilled and low-skilled immigrants, by exploiting the different geography and timing of the inflows of these two groups of immigrants. We find that an increase in the first type of immigrants decreases the share of the Republican vote, while an inflow of the second type increases it. These effects are mainly due to the local impact of immigrants on votes of U.S. citizens and they seem independent of the country of origin of immigrants.
They see high-skilled immigrants causing Democratic voting among "U.S. citizens" whereas what I believe is happening is that high-skill immigrants cluster in high tech hubs where tech firms get them H-1b visas. Those places already vote Democrat and continue to do so.

By contrast, an influx of low-skilled immigrants into areas where they directly compete with locals for low-skilled jobs becomes a source of citizen dissatisfaction. That dissatisfaction moves people to vote for Republicans who today are less receptive to low-skilled immigration.

More on the "No Babies" Problem

Earlier today I wrote about how people choosing not to have children has become a problem. links to a Fox News article on the same subject, which makes the point that the problem is worse in Europe.
Europeans who are declining to become parents are only following the example of their leaders. Of the six founding members of the European Union (Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) today only one of them (Belgium) is led by someone who has had children.

Britain and the European Commission are also headed by childless leaders. Amazingly, these eight core leaders of modern Europe have a total of only two children among them.

Contrast this demographic collapse to the situation of the leaders of this same group of countries in 1951, when they founded what became the European Union. At that time, the eight leaders of these countries had 32 children.
Europeans are committing slow-motion suicide, not as individuals but as cultures and societies. And in the U.S., the consequences are also real.
Under the new tax regime, the fertility of women of childbearing age in households paying no federal income taxes is almost 25 percent higher than the fertility of those paying income taxes. To say this demographic trend is incompatible with the long-term viability of a welfare state is understating matters considerably.

Halper a Red Herring?

I would hope COTTonLINE readers wonder how the name of FBI informant Stefan Halper was leaked, when the DOJ and FBI have so assiduously been protecting it. Let me float a conspiracy theory, original with me, and based on no insider knowledge whatsoever.

Halper, 73, is an ex-pat American who lives and works in the U.K. He's the ex-son-inlaw of a CIA Deputy Director, check out his Wikipedia bio. I view him and the people he contacted as low-level, presumably they told him little because they knew little.

Honestly, Halper-as-mole looks like a red herring. He's somebody already revealed as an intelligence asset who has no further value as an informant. I strongly suspect he was "outed" to provide cover for the real mole, who was literally inside the Trump campaign.

It is reported Halper contacted 2-3 low-level Trumkins. If he did so at the behest of the FBI, he shouldn't have been so tasked. It appears the Trump people told him exactly nothing of interest.

If the Trump campaign is aware of leaks of their inside communications which ended up in outsiders' hands, Halper likely was not the source. He has been "sacrificed" to provide cover for the real mole, who may today still work in the White House or elsewhere in the Executive Branch.

A mole, if he exists, likely was a genuine Trump supporter and campaign worker upon whom the FBI found enough dirt to indict him (or her). They instead used it as blackmail to "turn" the person into a CI.

While I feel for people caught in such situations, they really have no one to blame but themselves. Those with "iffy" pasts should stay in low exposure occupations where it's unlikely anyone will be motivated to check their backgrounds.

It's odd how many people can't bring themselves to accept this unfortunate fact of life. It's a very rare individual who, like Donald Trump, can violate this rule with impunity; many try and fail.

A Problem, and An Answer

Twelve years ago in a prior venue (TCS Daily), Instapundit Glenn Reynolds wrote some solid stuff about the declining birth rate.
Parenting has become more expensive in non-financial as well as financial terms. It takes up more time and emotional energy than it used to, and there's less reward in terms of social approbation. This is like a big social tax on parenting and, as we all know, when things are taxed we get less of them.

Yes, people still have children, and some people even have big families. But at the margin, which is where change occurs, people are less likely to do things as they grow more expensive and less rewarded.
If anything, the trends Reynolds observed over a decade ago have since become more pronounced. Speaking with the other DrC a couple of days ago, I mused about whether our species can survive its members getting control over the choice to bear children? Current evidence suggests a tentative answer: No.


The human species may be able to escape the too-busy-or-self-indulgent-to-parent trap by producing effective-and-affordable robot nannies within the next, say, 40 years. Then we can reproduce like the wealthy do, have lots of children but let someone (something) else raise them.

Indulge, for a moment, my inner science fiction author. Let us imagine a future in which each human infant is paired with a smart robot that can be its lifelong companion.

Nurse and nanny to us when we’re small, companion and tutor for children, friend and minder for teens, valet/butler as we become adults, nurse and chin-wiper again as we grow elderly. Imagine, never lonely, never lacking services, it’s a Downton Abby life for us all.

As the Instapundit is fond of saying, "Faster, please."

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Enemies of the Constitutional Order

Attorney Scott Johnson, one of Power Line’s “four horsemen,” writes about the Comey/Mueller/Obama mess in no uncertain terms.
Every day, Barack Obama, John Brennan, James Clapper, James Comey and their underlings come ever more sharply into into focus as enemies of the constitutional order. The New York Times and the Times’s mainstream media colleagues have served as their indispensable tools.
Analysis: true, if understated.

The Cover-Up Continues

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds joins the chorus of those writing “Lock ‘Em Up.”
They covered for Hillary. They spied on Trump, and then when he unexpectedly won they panicked. Now, you’ll notice, all the mad leaking to the NYT and the WaPo is defensive in nature: Smoke-blowing to try to cover their tracks. In fact a lot of people involved in this should be in jail, and I’m beginning to think some of them might actually wind up going to jail.
It will be like pulling teeth ... darned difficult. To keep your spirits up, picture NYT’s David Brooks rhapsodizing over the razor-sharp crease in Obama’s orange jumpsuit. I find it’s good for a smirk when I need a pick-me-up.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Trump Can Ignore Europe

On Monday we wrote about what we called “A European Mini-Tantrum” over President Trump’s cancellation of the JCPOA. Today we see agreement from the foreign policy community. Writing in Foreign Affairs, Jeremy Shapiro concludes:
The real question is not whether Europeans are pissed off but whether they will do anything in response to Trump’s actions. The answer is most likely no.
That was my take, too.

Calling Out Predators

Do you have a problem with President Donald Trump describing members of the murderous Salvadorean gang MS-13 as “animals”? Apparently all manner of progressives find his formulation troubling. Which I think tells us more about progressives than it does about the President.

I enjoyed a wisecrack I saw somewhere online which said Trump had, with the comparison, maligned the good name of animals. Upon reflection, perhaps “hyenas” would have been a more apt analogy, as they too are ugly pack-hunting predators.

Times: Obama Spied on Trump Campaign

Headlines this morning full of news that The New York Times has reported the FBI did in fact conduct surveillance on the Trump campaign prior to the 2016 election. If you’re trying to keep up with this story, I recommend Mollie Hemmingway’s excellent analysis of the NYT piece, written for The Federalist.

As Hemmingway notes, the Times soft-pedals the importance of what her Federalist colleague Sean Davis charges:
The Obama admin was actively spying on four affiliates of a rival political campaign weeks before an election.
In case you don’t have the patience (or time) to read her whole, excellent column, I’ll share with you her conclusion.
This New York Times story may have been designed to inoculate the FBI against revelations coming out of the inspector general report, but the net result was to affirm the fears of many Americans who are worried that the U.S. government’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies abused their powers to surveil and target Americans simply for their political views and affiliations. The gathered information has been leaked to media for years, leading to damaged reputations, and the launch of limitless probes, but not any reason to believe that Trump colluded with Russia to steal an election.
COTTonLINE has followed this story for over a month.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Change Happens

The Institute for Family Studies reports new data showing the steepest declines in birth rates have occurred among Hispanic women, with Native American and African-American women also showing larger declines than whites and Asians.

The importance of these findings is that they suggest the demographic change to a non-white majority pundits have written about may take much longer than formerly expected. That is, if it ever happens.

The predictions have been based on linear projections of prior birth rates which, we now see, are changing. And they are changing at different rates for different groups.

Keep this in mind when progressive pundits tell you Democrats will soon rule, based on swelling non-white populations. The “swelling” is quite simply slowing down somewhat quickly.

Editorial Note

Too busy to post yesterday, the DrsC are in transit to Wyoming. It’s our biannual migration, we’re snowbirds “flying” home.

Cracking Wise

Proposed headline for upcoming Trump-Kim meeting in Singapore:
The Bad Hair Summit

Monday, May 14, 2018

A European Mini-Tantrum

The two lead articles in the RealClearWorld list this morning have a similar thrust.
RIP the Transatlantic Alliance, 1945-2018
Trump’s decision to blow up the Iran deal is a massive attack on Europe 
Both take the view that, at long last, Europe and the United States will go their separate ways, the Iran deal breakup being the final straw. Who knows? Maybe they will prove to be correct. Permit me to be skeptical.

Since 1945 Europe has graciously allowed the U.S. to provide its military defense. This has literally saved European countries trillions of dollars which they’ve spent on elaborate welfare schemes that purchased social peace at a very high price. Their post-1945 lack of military has also kept them from killing each other wholesale, as they did during the prior century.

If Europe chooses to go their own way, apart from the U.S., do they propose to do so unarmed in a dangerous world? Are they ready to exchange “orders from Washington” for substantially less friendly “orders from Moscow?”

Is there even a possibility European nations are ready to shift to having serious military formations in non-trivial quantities? Will their electorate, accustomed to handouts and nanny state caretaking, be ready to forego some of their cherished perks and spend a few years of their youth in the military?

Permit me to doubt any of that will happen. Like younger children in wealthy families, they’ll whine and complain ... and fall in line when the patriarch insists ... because actually being independent is too hard, too ugly to contemplate, too much like unaccustomed drudgery.

CA's Mr. Democrat Goes On the Record

In a Power Line post that begins with a glowing review of David Brooks' NYT column (see mine immediately below) about Trump's good understanding of the thug minds of our international adversaries, Steven Hayward goes on to cite a Willie Brown column from the San Francisco Chronicle.

If you aren't from CA, Willie Brown was Speaker of the Assembly (lower house) in Sacramento for 15 years, and later mayor of San Francisco. On the left coast Brown is Mr. Democrat (Emeritus). He writes:
It’s time for the Democrats to stop bashing President Trump.

Like it or not, a significant number of Americans are actually happy these days. They are making money. They feel safe, and they agree with with the president’s protectionist trade policies, his call for more American jobs, even his immigration stance.

The jobs growth reports, the North Korea summit and the steady economy are beating out the Stormy Daniels scandal and the Robert Mueller investigation in Middle America, hands down.
Brown on the left coast, Brooks on the right. As the sainted Sherlock is said to have told Watson, something is afoot. Too many things seem to be moving in positive directions.

Dang, it takes Democrats a long time to catch on, considering they're supposed to be so smart, and all. Disconfirmation is a bitch, when your cherished beliefs die right in front of you.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Understanding the Thug Mind

David Brooks writes supposedly conservative opinion for The New York Times, syndicated elsewhere. As a Timesman he has been hating on Trump for a couple of years.

A decade ago I liked some of Brooks' columns but have avoided most of it recently. Today I think he has "come up for air" after discovering some bottom-dwelling truth, his column appears in the Tampa Bay Times.

Brooks starts out talking about the mobbed-up hoodlums and corrupt union bosses Trump had to deal with as a successful builder in NYC and Atlantic City. But, he adds:
I can’t help but wonder if that kind of background has provided a decent education for dealing with the sort of hopped-up mobsters running parts of the world today. There is growing reason to believe that Donald Trump understands the thug mind a whole lot better than the people who attended our prestigious Foreign Service academies.
Brooks then cites hopeful signs in our dealings with North Korea, China, and Iran as examples of where perhaps Trump knows better than his predecessors. And he concludes:
I’d feel a lot better if Trump showed some awareness of the complexity of the systems he’s disrupting, and the possibly cataclysmic unintended consequences. But there is some lizard wisdom here. The world is a lot more like the Atlantic City real estate market than the GREs.
Honestly, it isn't a bad hypothesis. The other DrC and I have been binge-watching Gotham, having only recently 'discovered' it. The mafia model of "show respect but threaten extreme violence" Don Falcone practices isn't so far removed from Trump foreign policy.

He's had nice things to say about Kim and Xi, but freeing up Mattis to slaughter ISIS fighters wholesale makes the violence point too. Not for our Donald the measured "proportional response," he says clearly "cross me and I'll murder your society, root and branch." It seems to work.

Robotic Eldercare

Drudge Report links to a Sunday Express (U.K.) article which reports robots will be used to provide care for the elderly. At least in part it takes a dim view of this development.

As a soon-to-be (already?) elderly person, I have to say I don't take a dim view of using robots to provide elder care, providing of course they are more than chin-wiping machines. As short-term memory dims, the elderly can become frustrating for still-together humans to tolerate.

Intelligent machines, on the other hand, can be endlessly patient with mentally foggy elders, answering the same question over and over without irritation. And unlike human caregivers, machines won't get stoned, steal your stuff, beat you or overmedicate you to get some peace and quiet.

I expect the Japanese to lead the way in the development of eldercare robots, since they (a) have the tech skills and (b) have more elders and fewer young humans to care for them than anybody else.

Happy Mothers Day

COTTonLINE extends best wishes to all mothers, today in particular, but more generally every day. You are the special ... vital ... link that makes human beings a possible thing. Around the globe, in every culture, we humans honor that magical mother-child bond.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Will of the Wasp

Time was George Will was a respected writer on the right; a little prissy with his bow ties, but relatively solid. For the last two years he has been Mr. Negative about Trump and all who sail with him. Will's current column for The Washington Post is entitled:
Trump is no longer the worst person in government.
In the column Will says really awful things about Vice President Mike Pence, for example:
The oleaginous Mike Pence, with his talent for toadyism and appetite for obsequiousness, could, Trump knew, become America’s most repulsive public figure.
Honestly, Will takes Trump hatred to new and rarefied heights. Supporting the President seems sufficient to make Pence, in Will's eyes, "America’s most repulsive public figure."

Given all the hostile things Will has said of Democrats in years past, and now says of mainstream Republicans too, he no longer has a political home in today's America. I think he might be happier elsewhere, as an expat perhaps. Or maybe he could become a baseball commentator for ESPN and eschew politics.

Time for a Mole Hunt

Someone in the White House press unit is leaking like a sieve, and the group's leadership is seriously P.O.'ed about it. They need to bring in an experienced "mole hunter."

The usual plan is to provide a slightly different version of a story to each member and see which version gets leaked. Then the leaky individual is thanked for their service and transferred to a job where they can do little harm, perhaps in the General Services Administration or maybe at the Ag. Library.

Senator John McCain

It is always amazing when someone says something half the people in the room are thinking, but are aware they dare not say it. That happened recently in the White House concerning Sen. McCain. People were shocked, not as they claimed by the thought, but by the near-suicidal naïveté of the speaker.

Senator John S. McCain, III, 81, is dying of brain cancer. In this long life he has been the son and grandson of Admirals, an Annapolis grad, a Navy pilot, a multi-year prisoner of war, a Senator, a major party presidential candidate, a husband and a father.

McCain has unquestionably done much to win our approval and thanks. He has also been almost as big a pain in the neck for his own party - the Republicans - as for the Democrats, at least nominally his opponents.

As his health fails we are loath to criticize him, as he has nearly achieved "don't speak ill of the dead" status. Yet he seems determined to be a stumbling block with his final breath.

Let's wish him an easy death, and some good days between now and then. Honestly, that's about as much as most of us can hope for.

The Most Effective Administration

It's an enigma, what the musical King of Siam called "a puzzlement." Michael Walsh writes in the New York Post about the apparent contradictions posed by the Trump administration.
Donald Trump has refused to conform to his political opponents’ conventional notions of what constitutes an effective White House operation. And yet, the economy is humming, hosts of regulations have been rolled back, the unemployment rate is down, job openings are soaring, taxes have been cut and black joblessness is at an all-time low.

Prototypes for the wall along the Mexican border are being tested, raids by ICE are rounding up dangerous illegal aliens and the “travel ban” against several Muslim nations was argued last month before the Supreme Court, where the president’s authority over immigration will be upheld.

In foreign affairs, the two Koreas are talking to each other, with a summit between Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un slated for June in Singapore, the ISIS “caliphate” has been effectively destroyed and just last week Trump yanked the carpets out from under the Iranian mullahs and canceled the nuclear deal negotiated — but never submitted to the Senate for ratification — by the Obama administration.

In short, this has been the most effective administration since FDR’s first term.
I don't know if I'd go that far, but certainly some hyperbole is justified by the results catalogued. And Walsh fails to mention the many conservative judges nominated and approved, one of my favorite outcomes for its long-lasting impact.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Russian Propaganda - An Aim of Discord

I don't tend to think of USA Today as a publisher of original research, but three USAT reporters write they read all 3,517 of the ads Russians bought on Facebook™. Here is what they found.
Of the roughly 3,500 ads published this week, more than half — about 1,950 — made express references to race.

At least 25% of the ads centered on issues involving crime and policing, often with a racial connotation. Separate ads, launched simultaneously, would stoke suspicion about how police treat black people in one ad, while another encouraged support for pro-police groups.

Divisive racial ad buys averaged about 44 per month from 2015 through the summer of 2016 before seeing a significant increase in the run-up to Election Day. Between September and November 2016, the number of race-related spots rose to 400.

Only about 100 of the ads overtly mentioned support for Donald Trump or opposition to Hillary Clinton.
Their findings exhibit to me evidence of a Russian desire to stoke discord among the populace of their primary power rival - the U.S. Russians are big racists, they particularly disdain people of African ancestry. They presume white Americans feel the same way, and older Russians remember Soviet propaganda which repeatedly said this was true.

In past presidential elections, roughly 90% of African-Americans have voted Democratic, and the Republican electorate is therefore mostly white. Russians, by stoking racial animosity, can have actually moved more people of both groups to vote, albeit for opposite sides. My guess is that was not their intent.

I believe their hope was to provoke riots and police crackdowns leading, in their best-case scenario, to insurrection. After getting their hopes up from Ferguson and Baltimore, basically they failed. However, from their viewpoint the effort may have been worth risking a few million dollars on.

Starbucks™ as SJW

I'm not a coffee drinker; I like it okay but it doesn't like me much so I avoid it and drink lots of diet cola instead. The other DrC likes coffee and has a cup or two most days.

Upon hearing Starbucks™ has declared its tables and restrooms wide open to non-customers her response was predictable and instantaneous. "Okay ... I'm not going back to Starbucks, it's going to become the local homeless shelter."

Using a formulation popular with the bloggers at Instapundit to describe virtue signaling corporate actions, I replied, "Get woke, go broke."

A Counterfeit Kennedy

The other DrC and I were watching the wrap of Bret Baier's Special Report on Fox News tonight. He ran a clip of former Senator-Presidential candidate-Secretary of State John Kerry whining about the abrogation of the JCPOA.

The other DrC observed she's been watching Kerry since he came back from Vietnam and he's been a pain the backside the whole time. I blurted out in response, "The guy is a counterfeit Kennedy - in personal sleaze, pomposity, and even appearance." At which point we both were struck by the aptness of that comparison, which I then decided to share with you.

The Long Trip Home

Guest blogging at Instapundit, Austin Bay links to a stirring true tale from the opening days of World War II. It's the story of a PanAm Clipper flying boat which was outbound from San Francisco in the vicinity of New Caledonia enroute to Aukland, New Zealand, when they learned of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. You can access their story here.

The chief pilot carried sealed orders which, in the event of Japanese hostilities, directed them to keep going west around the globe until they reached the PanAm base in New York. Since PanAm didn't routinely fly this route, they had to make it up as they went along. Along the way they landed on both the Nile and Congo rivers.

History doesn't have to be dry and boring. This is not a short read but extremely well-written and gripping. I enjoyed it very much, perhaps you will too. 

Europeans Worried About Immigration

In late April, the YouGov polling organization asked people in eleven European countries what they believed the two most important issues facing the EU are today. Steven Hayward of Power Line has a table of the results, which accurately summarize the tabular data found here at a YouGov site.

Immigration ranked first in all but two countries, chosen by between 35% and 53% of the respondents. Those countries are Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Lithuania, and Greece. Immigration was chosen second most often in Spain and Poland.

Campaigning, Donald Trump tapped into a feeling common in many developed countries, not just here. It's the feeling (a) of being overrun by poorly socialized economic refugees wanting a handout, and (b) of lacking the national will to get control of borders.

N.B., Hungary was not included in the survey. As noted earlier this month, Hungarians found the national will to wall out Middle Eastern refugees. EU bureaucrats in Brussels were predictably aghast. Having gotten control, I'll bet Hungarians would have ranked "immigration" a lesser problem, no longer among the top two.

In Praise of Pickups

I can’t resist calling your attention to a RealClearPolitics column by a Blue Dog Democrat from Mississippi warning his party not to take stands that make them appear anti-pickup truck.
To people not from rural parts of the country who are reading this, let me assure you that the truck is a very important part of our lives. I have a truck, most of my friends and neighbors have trucks, and they are integral to a culture that cherishes a lifestyle more closely tied to the land and sea. In many ways, the love of trucks is similar to the love of firearms in rural America. Trucks and guns are both deeply ingrained in my community.
Poor guy, being a rural Democrat has got to be as tough these days as being a big city conservative. Neither is in any way enviable. He concludes, plaintively:
Progressives must not forget that the top-selling vehicle in America is the Ford F-150. I know that neither I nor anyone else I know wants to read about Democrats’ wanting to make their next truck more expensive.
The author’s got a snowball-in-hell’s chance of convincing Democrats to lighten up on things important to his neighbors, those “bitter clingers to guns, god” and pickup trucks who candidate Obama famously denigrated.

Full disclosure: I love my Ford F-350 Super Duty Diesel. I’ve owned 5 trucks over the past 35 years, a Chevy, a Dodge, and 3 Fords, each a winner. It is the essentially American vehicle.

Eating Only Meat

Drudge Report links to an article in The Guardian (U.K.) about people eating an all-meat diet.
It’s an extreme version of the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet – which trains the body to run on fat rather than carbohydrates – that has become popular in recent years.
The article makes a series of somewhat unrealistic claims for various human complaints the diet helps alleviate. For example, one devotee claims:
My joint pain and tendinitis went away, my sleep became excellent, my skin improved. I no longer had any bloating, cramping or other digestive problems, my libido went back to what it was in my 20s and my blood pressure normalised.
To be fair, the article also quotes a Stanford med school prof who believes an all-meat diet is unhealthy for the heart and intestines.

The first mentions of the all-animal diet I’m aware of are accounts of the high-fat Eskimo diet and the eating habits of the Lewis and Clark expedition’s young men. The latter consumed several pounds of lean wild game (bison, elk, venison, bear) meat every night for two years and stayed remarkably healthy.

I’ve been tempted to try the carnivore diet, but never have gotten around to it. The closest I’ve come was a year spent doing Atkins - largely a failure as weight loss goes - although it was definitely doable.

Snarkmaster Extraordinaire

Sarah Huckabee Sanders is a natural as Press Secretary. Asked for White House reaction to negative comments from former President Obama, and former Secretaries of State Kerry and Clinton concerning Trump's shutting down the JCPOA (Iran nuclear deal), she coolly replied:
I think based on each of those individuals’ lack of success in this entire process on foreign affairs, they would probably be the last three people that we would look to for advice and counsel, and whether or not we had made the right decisions.
Sanders is fantastic. Hat tip to John Hinderaker of Power Line for the quote.

The Nunes Mole Hunt

Over a month ago I posted a comment about the possibility of an FBI mole within the Trump 2016 campaign. The Wall Street Journal's Kimberley A. Strassel wrote a story yesterday which alleges the existence of such a mole.

Strassel claims to have a good idea of the mole's identity and hints the individual is a foreigner. If there proves to be a mole, the stink will be an order of magnitude greater than Watergate, which was after all a third-rate burglary plus attendant coverup.

This new affront would be the rancid politicization of our national police force - the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is third-world behavior, banana republic corruption for which high ranking political appointees in the Obama DOJ and FBI should do felony prison time.

The bottom line will prove to be what President Obama knew and when he knew it.